TWO HUNDRED FORTY FIVE…little red houses, for you and me

So…

we bought a little red house almost two months ago. Greg and I lovingly refer to it as our sweet humble dump cottage.

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It’s a fixer upper…and we will just leave it at that.

In September Abby and Phoebe had expressed a desire to settle down, find friends, and get involved in activities. I can’t say that I blame them. Traveling the country, while being an incredible experience for the family, can be difficult for young kids during the school months. There were other full-timers homeschooling their kids, but it was few and far between. And the families always seemed to have kids the same age as Abby or Phoebe.  Rarely did we find families with kids both their ages, so someone was always left out.

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For that reason alone, summertime was their favorite time to RV.

When we began our alternative lifestyle, Greg and I always said if anyone ever expressed a desire to stop, we would not be selfish. We vowed to put our own wants aside, no matter what. So when the kids started making their feelings known in September, we were completely out by October.

A total of 18 months living in an RV full-time. Not too shabby. I still can’t believe we did it. Without a doubt, I can say, both Greg and myself could have gone on for who knows how long. But, we made a promise to the family not to be selfish.

Come October, we spent a couple of months in Greg’s parents basement, two months in my mom’s house, 1 month in a beautiful farm home, and now, our sweet humble  cottage.

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So it’s been about 7 months since we re-entered into normal society of schedules and appointments. On the one hand it’s nice to be back. I honestly never thought I would utter the following words, but I actually missed our daily routines of “everyday normal staying in one place” lives.

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On the other hand coming back to a stationary life is difficult. Right about this time last year we were living it up in Telluride, CO and Park City, Utah. I have so many great memories of the kids and I exploring the little towns, stopping for ice cream and souvenirs, talking with the locals about the best hiking places, restaurants, and parks for the whole family. We would get out and walk every day.

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And quite possibly my favorite thing about out west is the simple fact that my husband went to and consequently got off work a whole two hours before his east coast counterparts. I mentioned earlier how refreshing it is to be able to mentally check out of my motherhood duties a whole two hours early everyday. Well just let me take this moment to confirm my previous statements; it is a joy to let someone else take the lead in putting constant limits on our little inmates to ensure their safety, fret over what to cook for dinner, help the oldest child as she goes about her daily breakdown because of ” how much school she has to endure”.

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People please, before you have a coronary, I’m totally joking.

Well, I’m joking about everything but the dinner thing. Finding something to cook which satisfies everyone’s health requirements, taste buds, appetite is definitely not one of my strengths. So Greg getting off work earlier made it super easy for him to plan out the nightly menu.

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But for better or worse I am back to planning dinner menus, keeping everyone safe, and piling on the school work until at least one child ends up in tears at the end of the day. I don’t consider my duties as a homeschooling parent sufficient until at least one child is in tears, on the floor, curled up in the fetal position. Again, just joking.

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All joking aside, I find myself thinking a lot about all of the experiences we had and how they have impacted our lives. Of course I won’t know until years from now…or at least when I get one of my kids’ first therapy bill, just how much damage we caused in order to experience the vagabond lifestyle.

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BUT I can say the one thing I learned about myself (which I instinctively knew already…it just became more apparent) is that I value intimacy over large group settings. Although I can throw down with the best of them at large parties, I prefer one on one interaction. Along with intimate group settings I also found, and this next one is a biggie, I prefer a smaller home for my family.

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Say What??

I loved the confines of the 300 square foot home on wheels just because we were all so close to one another ALL THE TIME. Does that mean I LOVED having ONLY 300 square feet of space?

No.

But I didn’t hate it either.

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 It worked out perfectly for us.

There were times when I was cursing the confines in which we found ourselves. But it gave me a tremendous sense of satisfaction just knowing I can live with much less than I previously thought. I wholeheartedly embraced the philosophy of living with the bare minimum.

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The whole time on the RV allowed me to hone in on these little people we are raising. House work was almost minimal, the kids had chores, learned to cook, wash dishes, sort, wash, dry, fold, and put away their own clothes which in effect too=k loads off my to-do lists…pun intended.

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Looking for a home that would allow us to still be intimate and close with one another without sacrificing the modern amenities (good size yard, centrally located and within walking distance to downtown, good neighborhood, space for everyone but not huge) we’ve become accustomed to proved to be a challenge. So when we came upon the little red house, with oodles of potential, it just seemed like the perfect next step for our little family.

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I will say, when the kids go to bed at night, all in their own rooms, the 1300 square foot cottage seems too big for us. I miss watching them sleep and knowing what they are doing every minute of the day. I’m sure in four months time, I will appreciate the extra 1,000 square feet we find ourselves in. Four months seems to be my magic time frame for getting back into the swing of things. At this time, we are in our two month mark. I’m feeling pretty good right now. I can’t wait to see what four months will give me.

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For now, I’m just going to sip on some lemonade…in my new backyard, watch my kids jump on our brand new trampoline, listen to some John Millencamp sing about little pink houses and day-dream about all the fun things we have planned…

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‘…little pink red houses for you and me’

TWO HUNDRED FORTY THREE…alaska sick

I woke up to the vibration of our behemoth vehicle thundering down an unfinished gravel road. I wasn’t sure where we were geographically. Physically I realized I was crammed into Cecilia’s bunk. Abby’s analogy homework pops into my mind in moments like these: wooden chair is to pinched sciatica as bottom bunk is to bulging discs. But giving up the feeling of her little back curled perfectly into my torso with our arms intertwined isn’t something I’m ready to surrender just yet. Plus waking up to a pile of her freshly washed strawberry hair haphazardly twisted into a bun on the top of her head is always a nice way to wake up.

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Once I had my wits about me, I remembered we were leaving Whitefish, YT (Yukon Territory). As my eyes focused on Cecilia’s pink panda pajama pants, I watched her little fingers rise and fall resting on her little tummy. I love watching my little inmates sleep. They are all so peaceful and perfect. They have their whole lives ahead of them and somehow, when I look at their little jaggedly square slightly dirty fingernails, I feel secure as a mom they are using their imaginations and creativity to their fullest capacity.

Basically the only thing as a parent I am certain of.

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We left Homer with heavy hearts and monsoon-like weather on Thursday. It’s better to rip the band aid off  just get up and go rather than to peel it off slowly lingering around looking at everything we will be missing. Abby was making observations all morning long about the dense fog and “Are we sure we want to drive in this kind of weather…it’s raining so hard out and really hard to see with all the fog around” to which Greg replied, “We’ve driven in rain and fog before…we will be extra safe and I know we will be fine.” “She just said out loud what I feel inside”, I remarked. The sideways glance from Greg is an unspoken communication I understand well…his, “I know you don’t want to leave, but this is the plan we’ve mapped out…if we stay, we …” “I know, I know” I answered back with my unspoken glance.

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Leaving the campground, we headed north one last time so I might grab a picture of the ‘Welcome to Homer’ sign. It took a full 30 minutes of crouching down, walking from side to side to try to find the best angle for my sign. As I examined the evidence, one thing was glaringly obvious…I suck at landscape photography. I just keep telling myself to log in those 10,000 hours and my efforts will eventually pay off. At least that’s what Malcolm Gladwell has lead me to believe.

Currently, we are travelling down the infamous HWY 1 (Alkan Highway) through the Yukon Territory. We breezed through customs yesterday and Cecilia managed to charm the pants off the stoic Canadian border guard. She wouldn’t smile at any of us. But when Cecilia came to the window, climbed over Greg and answered the guards questions, “What’s your name” with her confident, “I’m CC” and the guards’ “How old are you” with “I’m six” shooting the guard with her goofy crooked smile, the guard looked at her and tried to withhold a smile, but melted in the palm of her hand. Cecilia then relayed to the guard, “I have a pee pee sticker chart” and “I’m a big girl” the guard responded with an animated, “Wow, you are a big girl” she gave us back our passports and waved us through. It provided Greg and I with a good chuckle for the rest of the 8 hour trip. If those border guards goal is to not smile and remain neutral, she failed…just like the ones who allowed us into Canada. Their all effective, until Cecilia shows up.

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We were going to spend a couple of days in Seward but when we arrived, it was pouring rain. The forecast predicted rain for the next four days. The girls have grown out of their wellies, and we just weren’t really feeling it. Plus, I am excited to see my best girlfriend from college and her family in Minnesota as we make our way to Michigan. Even though we aren’t scheduled to arrive for another couple of weeks, I rationalized that running errands and tying up some loose ends for the RV in Minot (Why not, My not) North Dakota would be a great way to spend the next two weeks.

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Here’s something completely random: When I first heard Kings of Leon back in 2006, I assumed the lead singer was a robust fella who wore button down shirts with fabric gaping open between each button, so his sparse chest and belly hair could get some air. In my mind I just assumed he was kind of greasy and a little dirty with heavy bourbon on his breath. Maybe he had some scratchy corn teeth and always had a cigarette barely hanging onto his lower lip. I always thought of him in month old dirty jeans, well-worn cloudy black combat Doc Martin lace-up boots, along with his ‘devil-may-care’ rock star attitude every time I heard one of their songs.

I maintained this mental picture until Spring of 2014 when I was waiting in the pick-up car line of Abby’s first grade school. I was there early and probably listening to one of their songs on the radio. I googled Kings of Leon…low and behold, Caleb Followill, is neither robust or greasy. My bubble was burst. I still revert back to the picture in my mind, as his voice ABSOLUTELY does not match his face. I want the Milli Vanilli hipster to step aside and reveal the true scratchy vocal lead singer. I was utterly disappointed and desperately wanted him to be this arrogant dirty whale of a man. Until then, I will continue to listen to their overly suggestive lyrics and wailing guitar solos.

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So, we are heading back to the lower 48. I have that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. The feeling of my stomach doing somersaults because I’ve left such an incredible place.  Hey if something amazing happens in Homer, Alaska, and I’m not there to witness it, will it still a. happen and b. still be wonderful…even if I’m not there to experience it? Yes, I know the answer and I think that’s why my stomach is doing somersaults. 

I think I am Alaska sick.

 

 

TWO HUNDRED FORTY…Aquamanning in Fairbanks

Living in such a small space with the same people day in and day out you find out so much about yourself.

For instance last night I learned that when I vomit, I sound like Aquaman. At least that’s what Greg tells me. I’m sure it’s true. He never exaggerates and isn’t dramatic at all. I must point out my sarcasm in the sentence above, just in case you thought I was being serious.

After eating at a restaurant I came home and didn’t feel well. Two hours later I was heaving over the toilet while Greg was standing in the doorway totally concerned saying, “I can’t believe your really puking right now. Are you ok? Can I do anything for you?” I mumbled something about a cold wet wash cloth and two minutes later he’s at my side with a sopping wet cold dish towel.

“That’ll do” I told him.

A few minutes go by and I can see him out of the corner of my eye. I know that look. He wants to tell me something, but he’s trying to gauge whether I’m too vulnerable for a little jest. Once I tell him, I’m totally fine and that I hope think it’s just a one-time thing he begins to tread lightly with, “I’ve never known anyone to sound like that when they throw up. Are you sure your ok? I mean, did you throw up a lung or a kidney?” To which I encouragingly reply, “What do I sound like when I throw up?” “Honestly, you won’t get mad?” He waits for my head nod and continues with, “You sound exactly like Aquaman.” From here on out, anytime I use the phrase, “I Aquamanned last night’ or ” I did my best impersonation of Aquaman last night” you can be 100% certain I am referring to vomiting.

And with that, I bring you highlights from our 6 day visit in Fairbanks.

Beginning in high school I dreamt about living in Alaska. Sometimes I replaced Alaska with Colorado just because it seemed more accessible. My sophmore year of highschool, I met a friend at sleep-away tennis camp who was from Colorado. She was a lot of fun and had really wild long curly blond hair. Right then I knew Colorado must be a totally cool place.

I’ve never met anyone from Alaska. I watched Continental Divide with Blair Brown and John Belushi a gazillion times so I felt completely prepared to handle anything Alaska might throw at me. Never mind the small fact that the film took place in Wyoming.

At this moment in time, Fairbanks is a jumping off point. A great place to settle down for a couple of days while we figure out the path we want to take. Our plan is to travel down to the coast, Cooper Landing, Seward, and Valdez. I’m enamoured with small quaint coastal towns. On our first RV journey, I was anxious to see if coastal Maine and Vermont were as amazing as the picture books described. Of course, being in both Maine and Vermont, it put the picture books to shame. I was in complete awe of their way of life and the absolute stunning beauty that surrounded them. I can’t wait to immerse ourselves in the quaint Alaskan coastal towns and see how these individuals live.


So while Fairbanks isn’t necessarily an end destination for us, it did allow us to recoup from our mega road trip, celebrate Cecilia’s 6th Birthday which I plan to write about in the next post, and get an idea of what our next couple of weeks might look like.

I was correct too by the way…I only Aquamanned once last night! Thank goodness. I absolutely loathe aquamanning!!

Here we come Seward!

TWO HUNDRED THIRTY NINE…buffalo, moose, and bears oh my

1,390 miles

14 hours per day

For 96 hours (a total of 4 days in case your like me and suck at math)

On Highway 2

That’s right friends we made it

A L A S K A

The final frontier

If you want to go back and re-read the introduction from beginning to end with your best Will Arnett vocal impersonation I encourage you to do so. I just did it in my head and I must say, It sounded amazing. And one more thing, when you read the line “The final frontier” make sure to use your lower register and move your eyebrows up and down in a really sinister way… just try it. It really helps in getting the message across.

Hmm where to begin. Do I start with the 4 days driving on half gravelled/half paved spine crushing roads. Should I open with a bragadocious piece of information about my finishing 3 audible thrillers within four days. Maybe I should begin with how overly enthusiastic we were when the trip began and how our attitudes for adventure quickly waned by the end of the second day. Or maybe, just maybe, I start with the end of the story where we were all willing to give Cecilia her own Tobagon complete with a group of Alaskan Huskies so that when she yelled, her directions would not only be welcome, but expected.

I guess it doesn’t really matter where I begin, as long as I accurately convey that 1,390 miles of half paved/half gravelled spine crushing roads will test the patience of even the most enthusiastic of road trippers and potentially jam your vertebrae together to pinch a large collection of nerves. We put in 12 sometimes 14 hour days on highway number 2 and it was every bit as treacherous and beautiful as they say.

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Along the way we had lessons in Science everywhere we looked, with all the wildlife roaming free around this vast landscape. We saw moose, buffalo, and many many bears. It was something to see these animals up close. It was intimidating to see how big they were and we were in an RV…which sits up pretty high.  The girls were enamoured with the animals facial expressions. We thoroughly entertained ourselves with made-up inner dialogues of each group:

Abby suggested the moose needed to cross the road to meet up with other moose peeps for their journey to camp…moose guarding camp of course.

Groups of buffalo looking to change-up their scenery would begrudgingly follow the leader of the pack. According to both Phoebe and Abby their dialogue went as follows:

Buffalo number 24 says to Buffalo Number 25 all the way in the back of the pack, “Do you know why Fred is going back this way?”

Buffalo Number 25 answers, “Fred pooped his pants and needs new underwear.” But it doesn’t end there, continue to repeat the poop line six or seven times and with every proclamation as if on cue, high-pitched giggling ensues.

We ran into some luck and actually saw a buffalo pooping on the side of the road, so that was the highlight of the day. Who am I kidding, it was the highlight of the entire trip…for the girls.

Both girls agreed the buffalo were heading to the nearest mall…for the Buffalo underwear…don’t want to be caught with turtle tracks in your undies!! The conversation went on for a lot longer than I care to record here. You should feel secure in knowing hours of “belly gas”  conversation which led to both topics of  belching and the always popular farting were discussed at length. Or more like ad nauseam. I hope with all of the “issues” those poor buffalo were afflicted with, they have finally recouped from their flatulent bellies. Fingers crossed on that one folks. Fingers crossed!

Of course all along our journey we saw several families of mamma bears and their baby cubs going scavenging and foraging for the upcoming school year. “They are hoping to find new satchels, computers, and shoes” that was my contribution. Not quite as exciting and scandalous as gaseous buffalo and camp-bound moose, but by the fourth day I wasn’t overly concerned about my creative responses. I just wanted to get the BLEEP out of the asylum on wheels.

Greg even swears he saw a reindeer with big fuzzy antlers which my friend Elena and I have named Boots. Unfortunately my friend Elena isn’t with us on our journey, but I pretend she is by texting her every five minutes to give her updates on our tremendously exciting lives. She’s super jealous.

Just kidding. She’s not jealous.

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For the first two days of our journey Thursday and Friday, I drove the entire time just because it was a workday for the hubs. So he used one of his many audible tokens to give me a 13.5 hour audio crime thriller by Author Gillian Flynn called Dark Places. This is the same author who wrote Gone Girl.

From the moment the book began to four hours later, I took my first bathroom break, which is unheard of for me. I’m usually an every two-hour potty break kind of girl. I drink a lot of water.

A LOT OF WATER.

Needless to say, I finished the 13 hour book just as we were pulling into our first stop-over on our very first day. I was dumbfounded for an hour or so, still completely enveloped in the world created by the author. I then promptly begged Greg to get the authors third book Sharp Edges.

The next day, Friday, 9 hours came and went and just like that. All the characters I had become so invested in, were gone. Poof. Into thin air. Never to materialize into the film going on in my mind. I had to shake these characters off. I was too tightly wrapped up in their world. I was too affected. Too emotionally involved. Attached. Invested.

It was time for a third crime book In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. The summer of 1999, after graduating from my undergrad program, I moved to New York. I was terribly lonely and subletting a room with fellow classmates from previous years. I stole In Cold Blood from my roommate Jonathan, and read it on my subway commute to midtown everyday…because reading crime novels is a great way to lift your spirits. I wanted another book like Gillian Flynn’s previous two. So this is the book I picked. Let me just say, it was creepy in the summer of 99 and it was creepy this past Sunday when I finished the 14 hour book in one day.

In between listening to books, Greg and I would pause to solve all of the worlds problems and try our very best to ignore the screaming, whining, crying jags from the girls.

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After the first 14 hours of driving on Thursday Cecilia was over all the cool coloring books, crafting supplies, small fun little toys, and little books we had bought specifically for this trip.

Abby and Phoebe are old enough to switch from one activity to another but Cecilia really likes it when I am at her beck and call sit with and show her how to use the stickers and color in her coloring books, when I read books to her, and finally when I play with her.

I love getting her started on all activities…but then I am ready to let her play/practice on her own. She was not down with that philosophy…at all…and would frequently yell loudly voice her protestations.

And after the second day of her declarations, we were all over it. Honestly, I am surprised I still have hair. BUT, we made it.

We are in ALASKA.

I’ve waited my whole young adult life to visit this land. I keep pinching myself, it’s so hard to believe. I’ve built it up so much in my mind…what the trees would look like, the crisp weather, the fresh smell of that crisp cool weather, the sound of nature, miles upon miles of untouched non-homogenized lands, and of course the people who call this unspoiled state home.

As soon as my spine heals, I am going to soak up everything Alaska has to offer. I want to experience everything. But not if it’s dangerous. No danger here folks. If the bears, buffalo, and Moose could just sort of…I don’t know…maybe hang out around the perimeter while the Spranger’s are here…that would be great. Totally awesome. Seriously, completely awesome.

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TWO HUNDRED THIRTY SEVEN….don’t mess with me, I’m ebbing

Today almost became the day, where I remove the tops from our jeep, turned up the bass and blasted the Foo Fighters on the car stereo, bought a pack of Marlboro Lights from the closest gas station, put my favorite baseball cap on, and drove 45 miles north from Minot (pronounced ‘my not’), North Dakota until I reached Canada.

ALONE.

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Yes, I envisioned myself running away from home. It happens once a year, where my sanity is taken to the edge of a Grand Canyonesque drop and dangled off to the side of its highest peak. I don’t smoke, but today I contemplated starting. Just a big fat inhale of nothing but carcinogenic badness and an exhale of Abby’s constant pleads for taking the summer off from school, Phoebe’s inability to concentrate on the most basic task, and Cecilia’s blatant and defiant deafness to my voice…it seemed like running away with my jeep, the tops off, music blaring, cigarette in hand was the better alternative.

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But then Greg would be all alone with the inmates (as I always LOVINGLY refer to my wonderful children). If I could have my druthers, we would be running away together. And in this day-mare (like a nightmare and a daydream all rolled into one) our kids are seen in the last scene relaxing on the ground outside and bragging, “Wow, that was hard! I thought they were never going to leave. Ugh, they put up with so much…my kids will never do this to me!!!” and then they raise their chocolate milks to one another and eat their favorite peanut butter with pickle sandwiches.

The scene ends and lights fade to black.

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Today was one of those days where I question my decision to not only home school, but live with all five family members in a 300 square foot mini-assylum-on-wheels. What was I thinking? I’m looking in our pathetic manufactured in Thailand bathroom mirror (that distorts my face…and not in a good way) watching myself age rapidly and not even recognizing the person looking back at me.

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After a shit (pardon my french) morning, I thought we could all use a little break, breath of fresh air, a minute or two in nature to recalibrate our rhythms. Oh, who are we kidding, Mommy needed to recalibrate her sanity. I am referring to myself in 3rd person. I had hopes of taking the kids to the park and taking pictures with my old friend, TANK (aka my Canon) in an effort to bring us all some much-needed peace. Nature always brings me to a good frame of mind.

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NOT TODAY.

No cooperation from anyone what-so-ever.

The evidence is all around…every picture.

I was on the verge of a Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford moment, in the infamous ‘no more wire coat hangers’ scene in the 1981 classic film Mommy Dearest, when I waved my white flag of surrender high in the air.

  I  brought Cecilia back, set her up at the table with some goldfish crackers, ice water, and her fully charged iPad. I needed a break. I isolated myself in my bedroom, laid down on the bed, cried, and had myself a 30 minute pity party. And within 30 minutes, I was perfectly fine.

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Cecilia came into the bedroom, climbed on the bed, sat down on my lower back and bounced up and down for a while, then laid down beside me, kissed me on the cheek, and said, “Mommy, I need more water, ice, and fishies.” As aggravated and frustrated as I was with all three of our inamtes, they are so damn funny.

Such is life.

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Ebb and Flow.

Clearly I’m ebbing right now…I am anxiously awaiting the flow.

TWO HUNDRED THIRTY ONE…wellness

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There are so many great blogs out there related to travel. Blogs about food, full-time RV life, historical landmarks in each city, state parks across the US, …etc. Some blogs give you insight on the best RV parks/cities for families with young children with a plethora of options to keep the kids entertained. Some give you great suggestions if you have pets. Of course, there are the blogs for the older crowd trying to keep busy as well as staying far far away from campers with kids….most of those can be found in Arizona.

Some blogs give advice to couples who may be tandem camping. There are even blogs out there which cater to specific activities. For example, if you love off-roading or four-wheeling, there are a lot of campgrounds in western California, Nevada, and Arizona with actual off-roading courses built right in. Some of them even have their own restaurants and convenience stores so you can hunker down and never leave your little oasis.

I considered, before we started this adventure, specializing in something. A food blog was out of the question. A. I don’t have the genetic makeup which will allow me to eat my way through the U.S. and be happy B. Nor do I have the energy to research, visit, and write a critique all the amazing food choices. And, although not necessarily in blog format, it’s already been done….thank you Anthony Bourdain.

I could have pulled from my various habits, like photography, knitting, writing, and working out…I wasn’t jazzed about doing a blog where I focused on the best campgrounds to get a great workout. That could get old quick and I am sure I would have to get into webcasting which doesn’t interest me at all. I don’t knit often enough to do a blog about the best campgrounds to knit and people watch. You can and should be able to take pictures anywhere…same goes for writing so neither of those ideas sounded appealing.

I just decided to continue writing about our lives on the road…it’s my favorite subject anyway.

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But looking back with the information I have now, I am convinced I could write a fairly thorough blog detailing the best Urgent Cares each city has to offer. Or the cleanest, most kid-friendly, and efficient ERs out there.

Mississippi has a pretty good Urgent Care in Diamond Head. I wouldn’t necessarily describe it as kid-friendly or even clean but when I took Cecilia in for “clear drainage” from her right ear last Monday, they sure were efficient…and nice. Even more-so on her follow-up visit this past Monday.

I hate to compare other ERs to Newport, Vermont’s ER but I’ve never seen an ER look so immaculate, react so swiftly, and process the patient so efficiently. They are truly impressive. The ER in Gulfport, Mississippi was pretty clean, the doctor and Orthopedic Surgeon were able to see us within an hour of arriving…but it would have been unfair to compare the efficiency of the administration in Mississippi to that of Vermont’s. Some administrations simply aren’t concerned about efficiency.

So, when Phoebe broke her right wrist on Monday after falling off the monkey bars at the park playground, we were able to experience Gulfport’s Emergency Room first hand. As soon as we arrived, we were processed and asked to wait in any of the three available waiting rooms. We turned around and as always, my goal was to pick the one with the least amount of “sick” people.

The two on our right had patients who were close to hacking up a lung and there was a peculiar gentleman taking up an entire couch with his feet up and shirt way above his enormous hairy belly. The one to our left boasted of a family who were verbally accosting one another and it looked as if it was soon to escalate to a physical confrontation. So…we chose the deathly ill, scantily clad waiting room.

Great.

So just to recap our Monday, early in the morning, I drove Cecilia to the Urgent Care in Diamond Head approximately 25 miles north of our current campsite. Later in the afternoon (three hours later) we were heading back to the ER in Gulfport which was 45 miles north of our campsite. That’s a lot of back and forth driving from the same areas in one day…in other words, backtracking…this very thing would drive Greg to the brink of insanity.

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We were in and out of the ER within a three-hour time period. The X-Ray showed yet another ‘green stick’ fracture on her right wrist. It was the same exact type of fracture, in the same exact place, on the opposite arm, as the last time in Vermont, 10 months ago. The Ortho wrapped her arm in loose material and settled it with a sling. We knew the drill: The material, which is not allowed to get wet, has to stay on her arm for three days to allow for the majority of the swelling to subside; In a couple of days, we return and she gets a hard cast.

Fast forward to the ‘hard cast fitting day’ and she is presented with a choice of fifteen colors to choose from. Pink, green, purple (which I for sure thought she would pick because its her fave color), green and pink camo, blue etc…She ended up choosing white. Luckily for her, it was a glow-in-the-dark cast.

Rewind to last night, when I woke up to check on her around the 3 a.m. hour. Imagine my surprise when I found her wide awake and proudly proclaiming, “I know why my cast isn’t glowing right now mommy…because the window shade is letting in light from the street lamp!!” At 3 a.m. I did not want to encourage her to stay up any longer, but I had to acknowledge the humor in the situation…here she was bright and early on a random Saturday morning trying to solve the mystery of the not-glowing ‘glowing cast’.

After I pulled the window shade down, we tested her glowing cast. She sighed a big joyous breath of air and settled her head on her pillow. As I tucked her back into bed and kissed her good night, I thought to myself, “I wouldn’t enjoy writing about anything else. These are the stories I want to tell. Our story.”

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And of course, I have no pictures of Phoebe in her cast, because I have been too busy to take pictures of her cast. Those will have to come next week.

Have a great last week of April…where did that time go? Eleven months, right around the corner. Almost one whole year of being on the road. So hard to believe.

TWO HUNDRED TWENTY-NINE…we’re in Texas sha moe part 2

In trying to stay on point with part 1 I stated we were in Texas in the title but that’s no longer the case. We are now bunking in a small rural town in Louisiana.

We went from moderate humidity, cool breezy nights, and sunny warm days to overwhelming humidity, stagnant warm nights and equally stagnant warm days. Despite the continuous rain we’ve experienced, I know it is beautiful here. And I am pleased to report, the Pelican state has plenty of grass and trees.

When we woke up this morning, I informed the girls of my plans to re-organize the past ten months of schoolwork. It’s constant work to keep everything neatly arranged in its place and the girls are moving up a grade. So we are making room for the new curriculum and sending their old work back to my sweet unsuspecting mother. Out with the old, in with the new. They helped with Cecilia, taking her to the potty, keeping her occupied and fed while I hacked away at our school clutter and WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT AS SOON AS I FINISHED and the rain held off for a couple more hours, we were off to the campground’s pool, playground, and splash pad…due to the monsoon-like weather, I did not take any pictures.

Please allow me to backtrack for a moment. When I called to make a reservation Monday afternoon, the gentleman on the other end of the line sort of chuckled at me and remarked, “We got plenty a room…you ain’t gotta make no reservation”.

SWEET! “So this is a great time to visit this part of the state…it has to be…who would pass up a campground like this, especially when kids are involved!”  This particular campground boasted of a pool, splash pad, playground, big pond with gazebos and footbridges, and a small catch and release fishing pond.

As I finished the last of the clearing out, the girls scrambled to get their swimsuits on. We made our way to the front office where I was hoping to settle our bill, but just like it was on Tuesday, the sign on the door said “closed”.

We schlepped our way over to the playground.  The pool was pretty close by, but was an odd color. I thought it was the reflection of the dark blue tile on the inside wall…but upon further inspection, I realized the water-color was in fact black.

I rounded the corner to take a mental picture of the “splash pad” covered in 3″ deep standing water. The word BACTERIA flashed before my very eyes in bright red neon lights.

When I turned to peruse the playground, I was equally unimpressed. This week is going to be a bust…at least in terms of getting out and enjoying our surroundings.

Thank God it’s Thursday. Only 2 more days and then we’re heading to the coast of MS. Well, 3 more days actually, but Saturday doesn’t count as we have a major excursion planned.

The point is, we are not here…

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Lacking in stimuli here in our campground in rural Louisiana, I would like to continue with the second half of the story about our beach time fun in the good old state of TX.

Before we embarked on our epic journey 9 months ago, we decided it would be fun to buy a beach tent.

We aren’t really beach tent kind of people, but thought it might allow us to extend our beach stays past the normal three and a half hours.

Knowing this Spranger family and my husband in particular, it couldn’t be just any tent. It needed to be the newest most minimalistic and indestructible tent on the market. Introducing this crazy-ass tent.  It takes a strong understanding of directional wind and a very precise placement of support beams otherwise known as poles.

I won’t bore you with the details, but I believe, thanks to the pictures below, that I am Justified when I write, the tent and I have some issues. I am convinced this tent exists to point out my wind calculation inadequacies. Below are pictures of the tent throughout the course of one day. I would get it up, after 15 minutes it would fall. This continued for a period of five hours.

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229 l.jpgBut dammit I kept trying. Hoping with the tents’ billowy graceful falls to the ground the girls would see, that I was not readily relinquishing my goal to get that damn tent to stay up. I know onlookers noticed me not relinquishing.

I even had one man stand within a few yards of me while I was struggling with the tent poles. He had a quizzical look on his face. If I were to interpret his facial contortions I would say he may have been trying to figure out if I was a performance artist or just a regular mom of three struggling to pup a tent. I could tell he wanted to help, but I was determined to figure it out on my own.

I entertained the thought of jumping from behind the fallen tent, taking a bow, and holding out my baseball cap just in case he wanted to give me some money for the 15 minutes of entertainment I no doubt provided. I just continued to struggle. He finally moved on. He didn’t leave any change. Voyeur.

Then of course there was the whole ordeal of the girls covering one another in wet sand. I’m sure I don’t need to write about the state of our shower after that fiasco.

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229 c.jpgFinally, we are the family who shows up at the beach with every sand toy known to man. If you can imagine it, we’ve got it. And every toy is used.

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I feel good about the hundreds of dollars we have spent on beach toys because I know they are being used and abused. The big hit this year is the dump truck. Not just with Cecilia… it has become the toy Abby and Phoebe fight over.

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The toy that launched a thousand screams, “Its my turn Phoebe…you’ve had it all day” “No Abby, you had it all day yesterday…and you picked the movie last night” because young people use logic to justify their arguments…”Well Phoebe you hit CC earlier and took her doll away from her this morning” and as you can imagine it escalates from there.

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I have been trying to let the girls work their issues out on their own, hoping they will find a peaceful and egalitarian resolution without my having to mediate. Either that or I’m just too tired to referee knowing that particular argument won’t be the last.

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229 w.jpg“It’s mine”, CC aggressively informs them. I can’t help but laugh as she grabs the dump truck and bolts in the opposite direction as fast as her little legs can take her. “CC, give it back to Phoebe…she had it first…your not being nice!” “No CC give it to Abby, it was her turn not yours!”  CC throws it down before they can yank it from her pudgy little hands. Conflict resolution 101 folks. Throw logic to the wind, just sit and wait. Eventually, it will all work itself out. Once again, we are not here,

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Sha moe…I’m going to make a change, it’s gonna feel real good, ya know it, ya know it, ya know it, ya know! No seriously, I’m going to change my current position in order to make Greg a coffee, and it will feel real good. Sha moe!

Enjoy your Thursday!

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TWO HUNDRED TWENTY EIGHT…we’re in Texas, “sha-moe” Part ONE

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It’s official, Texas is quickly becoming one of my favorite states. We just spent a glorious week at South Padre County Park where we were mere steps away from the beach. Ok, maybe the word “steps” might be exaggerating a wee bit…our beach journey was more like a short jaunt. I would like to take this moment and express my happiness in the form of song lyrics of Michael Jackson, “Sha-MOE”.

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Which brings me to my story of the day. It doesn’t matter where we are, Florida, North Carolina, California, Oregon, New York, Vermont or Maine, I am the human equivalent of a pack mule heading on a long journey for a daytime destination.

I can see it in my mind and am certain it is a comical sight. I wish I could capture the image for you, heck, I wish I could capture the image for myself…but it would most likely make me sad. Suffice it to say, my enormous beach bag now being used as a bag for transporting sand toys, a medium-sized drink/snack bag, giant beach blanket, 5 towels, and my camera bag all while pushing Cecilia in the stroller makes me feel as ridiculous as it sounds.

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It’s no surprise for those who’ve been reading this blog or know me…I’ve always been open about my over-packing issues. BUT, I really do need all those things, assuming I want to have a relaxing day at the beach. If I don’t bring toys, the girls will pester me to play with them the ENTIRE time. If I don’t bring snack and drinks…our four hour stay will turn into a dismal 45 minute wine fest with impulse to pack everything back into their special bags and head home. Same goes for towels and blankets. And any time I don’t bring my camera, I just sit and watch all these wonderful picturesque moments pass me by.

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So, I am owning it.

With each step getting me closer to the beach, the load I would carry, reaffirmed my current life motto, I am a pack-mule. The looks, the crazy stares, and as always the, “You’ve got your hands full” commenters…I don’t care anymore…it’s totally worth it.

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We spent all day Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at the beach. Since we needed recoup days, we used Tuesday and Thursday as “school work” make-up days, much to the girls’ chagrin.

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Cecilia as always, is the DJ for the entire day…controlling my iTune downloads and adjusting our portable Bose speaker volume. Phoebe was the self-appointed dj for the longest time until Cecilia relieved her of her duties when she refused to play Cecilia’s favorite Dr. Demento’s Star Trekkin for a fifth time.

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Despite having to chauffeur Cecilia around in the stroller, my duties at the beach have been greatly reduced. Everyone is getting older. I can sit, relax, sip on water, listen to Star Trekkin a gazillion times, and just watch my little inmates run wild on the deserted beach. Occasionally, I step into the DJ booth. I have rediscovered my 90’s all-time favorite bands The Police, The Black Crows, U2…and then ‘Fool in the Rain’ comes on and I just can’t contain my good vibes. I have to get up and run to each of them, kiss their little foreheads, dance like an idiot with them in the water, and tell them how much I love them.

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But I swear to everything holy, if I have to listen to Michael Jackson’s ‘Man in the Mirror’ song one more time, my head will explode. Abby has discovered and fallen in love with Michael Jackson. “…As I turned up the pot of gold, my favorite winter cold…a broken bottle top…they follow each other on the window sill…and no mess is gonna man in the cliver…

What the crap is a “cliver”? I’m afraid to ask…yet, I need to know.

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“MOM, those aren’t the words” yells Abby disapprovingly.

Nah nah nah nah nah…uh huh…there is love with no home and not a nickel to love, could it be, would it be pretending that their not alone…a willow deep blue sky…Ja know…whew, whew, whew, whew, whew…Im’ gonna make a change, it’s gonna feel real good, sha-moe, you got to move, sha-moe…whew, whew, whew, whew…” before he whispers, “Make that change“. And don’t even get me started on the cowbell in the background. If you ask me, it really adds to the immediacy and importance of the message, “Man in the mirror…make that change”.

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Abby eats it up, “Mom, can we play it again? PLEASE??? And don’t mess up the words this time Mom, if your going to sing, sing the right words!”

Join me for the next blog entry where I discuss other issues I have with our beach trips, including but not limited to our haphazard tent  escapades, girls and their beach toys, and kids who love to get dirty… Until tomorrow…

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“Sha-MOE…make that change”

Michael Jackson, Man in the Mirror

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TWO HUNDRED TWENTY FOUR…The Septuagenarian Police

…And, we’re still in Arizona.

We left the glorious casino parking lot in Sedona, Arizona on a frigid 56 degree Sunday afternoon. We returned to a park we had previously bunked in for 2 weeks. 

Wait…let me back up. All parks, including state campgrounds, have their own “unique” rules and this park was no exception. In fact, it might be the park with the most restrictions on the planet. The most RIDICULOUS restrictions on the planet.

This park, located in Tonopa, Arizona (pronounced ‘toe’ as in hey guys look at my toe: ‘No’ as in No, you may not go to the store; and ‘Pa’ is in Pa is that you?) But you have to say it really fast. The first time I saw the name, I resorted back to my high school church youth group theme song ‘Constantinople’ from They Might Be Giants. I was pronouncing Tonopa like they do in the song along with a little bit of my own southern flare, Constantinopa. The pronunciation goes something like this, (Toe as in hey guys, look at my toe; Nope as in Nope, you make not go to the store; Ah as in Ah, I see, thank you for explaining it to me.)

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I thoroughly enjoyed pronouncing it this way, punching those explosive vowel consonant  combinations with my enthusiasm. The first time the town’s name left my lips in the local Wal-Mart, I was immediately rebuffed by a small group of people who had surrounded me. These Arizonans were filled with questions like, “Oh my gosh, can you say that again…Where are you from…Where are you staying again…Oh you poor thing…That’s not the correct pronunciation…etc.” Much like those foreigners who come to North Carolina and Tennessee and pronounce ‘Appalachia’ like (Apa; Lay as in Lay the blanket down; Sha…I have no sentence for this utterly annoying sound.)

Luckily, the group was kind enough to give me the correct pronunciation.

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So, back to the campground with its “unique” set of rules. So their rules only allow people to stay for three days or one month. No more, no less. So, if your waiting on a part from La Mesa RV and they say, “It will arrive in four days Ma’am”…we can stay there for three days, but on the third day we have to pack up our things and go. They also only allow two people per RV to stay over night, so if you have kids, your pretty much boned. Four weeks ago, when we stumbled on the campground, their unique “rules” were not displayed in the open anywhere. With it being the weekend and the office being closed, we just pulled into an open overnight space and set up camp. We were planning on staying for a month knowing the slowness of most RV companies.

The following morning I woke up to the sound of my phone buzzing. It was the Captain of the Septuagenarian Police force of the Campground from the front office with a screeching, “Angie, Spr..Spring..ker, this is the front desk letting you know you have three too many people in your RV and therefore we cannot honor your request to stay. Im so sorry. Check out is 11:00 am.”  I explained my situation and they VERY RELUCTANTLY allowed us to stay for two weeks, way beyond their “better judgement”.

Somewhere in that exchange, they may or may not have said, “But you cannot return to the campground EVER AGAIN.” If they made that statement, I didn’t hear it.

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Which brings me back to the infamous “Monday” February 20th. When we pulled into the same campsite on Sunday afternoon, I filled out my pay information and indicated on the  envelope we were intending to stay for a mere ‘two’ days. TWO days. TWO.

Picture this, a mother and her child sleeping cosily in bed and the sun shining through the morning window. When my phone rang and caller id, displayed “Phoenix Arizona” on the smart screen, I assumed it was the RV center calling for us to come on in so they could finally fix our broken jack.

Alas, it was the Captain of the Septuagenarian Police force of the Campground. A scary, feeble, coarse voice on the other line screeched out, “Angie???” “Yes” I said. She sternly introduced herself, “This is the Captain of the Septuagenarian Police force of the Campground…and I understand your back in the park?” “Yes, we are. We came in last night, we are still waiting on our piece from the RV company. We should only be here 2 days. I hope this isn’t a problem.” To which the Captain of the Septuagenarian Police force of the Campground replied in her scary feeble crotchety voice, “Well, yes it is a problem Angie. I told you, you could never come back to the campground. We helped you and extended your stay the first time and that was enough. We need you to leave. You are not to come back.” Stunned, I replied, “Really…we’ve paid, we won’t cause any trouble, you have plenty of room, it’s not like we’re blocking business…there are miles of empty slots…and we’ve paid already, are you sure you don’t want that money?” “Check out is 11:00 am sharp” the Captain of the Septuagenarian Police force of the Campground barked…and then I heard a dial tone.

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I felt like a teenager who had been reprimanded for smoking pot or sneaking out of my mothers basement to go meet boys who had just been released from prison. As we were pulling out of the parking lot for the last time EVER…I imagined the Septuagenarian administration making a mandatory change of the rules to add, THIS IS A 55+ RV COMMUNITY ONLY, as most RV campsites in Arizona do already.

So to sum up the events which transpired Monday February 20th at Tonopa, Arizona: We were officially kicked out of our first campground. I felt a rush of emotions: anger, embarrassment, annoyed, confusion, still sleepy, rushed, panicked, and finally disbelief.

I took the girls to the park while Greg prepped the RV for departure. In case we were going to be on the road for a couple of hours, I wanted them to get their wiggles out.

I have nothing against the average well-behaved and respectful Septuagenarian. It’s the Septuagenarian who are generally angry, that rub me the wrong way.

Luckily, we were able to find another campground in Yuma which had an opening for the following 2 weeks without many ridiculous restrictions. This campground is also run by Septuagenarians, but they seem very nice. I guess we’ll see.

Without a doubt, this was the most interesting Monday I think we’ve ever had.

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And I spoke with the repair company…looks like we will be here for another 2 weeks.

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TWO HUNDRED TWENTY THREE…We won the lotto

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As of February 10, 2017 we have officially been full-time RV’ers for 32 weeks which ultimately translates into 224 days, and 5, 376 hours. We are still in the desert…But we recently ran into a bit of luck at a casino. Yes you read that correctly. I said casino. I know what some of you may jump to right away, “Oh wow, they won a boatload of cash”. Alas, we did in fact win the lottery, in a big big way. Yes my friends, I am proud and happy to say the Cliffs Castle Casino located…somewhere in Arizona…awarded us with a whopping …

…Hang on, I have to back up a bit…

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As I stated previously, we have been full-time RV’ers for 8 months and a week. Before we started this crazy journey, we had a loyal babysitter twice a week for 4 years. It was the same beautiful, smart, kind-hearted girl named Amanda. We all loved her. We had her twice a week. Did I say that already? It’s a hard pill to swallow going from twice a week babysitter for 4 years to 8 months of no date night to speak of.

A couple of nights ago, Greg and I were having a conversation about how we would just be so grateful for one night alone together. Just dinner, drinks, and conversation without interruption.

…which brings me back to our major lotto winnings last night…

We drove to this tiny little town in Arizona to visit Montezuma’s Castle. It was a cold rainy day and we spent something like 2 hours walking around the grounds and learning about the fascinating lives of the Hopi Tribe.

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Since we were only staying one night, we decided to  boon-dock in a vacant parking lot just below the casino. Greg read somewhere about a kid arcade or something they boasted of. It was around 2 in the afternoon and Cecilia was asking for a snack. So we agreed he would take Abby and Phoebe to this arcade or toy store, whatever it was…while I stayed back with Cecilia.

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I dropped Greg and the girls off and headed back to the RV with CC. We had just gotten inside our humble abode…Cecilia had asked to go to the potty (YEAH!), I took off my shoes, made myself a warm cup of tea, turned on the news, and prepped a small snack. Cecilia and I had just cozied up on the couch when my phone lit up. It was a text from Greg, which I ignored at first.

I was about to enjoy my first sip of warm tea and noticed my phone was lighting up again. “OK, something might have happened to him or one of the girls, even though I just left them 10 minutes ago”. I checked the message and it read,”Dude, get back up here now! Bring CC with you! They have a giant play center for the kids….BABYSITTERS!!! We can have some time ALONE!!!”

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I jumped up from the couch, threw my tea in the sink, put CC in a new pair of socks and shoes and bolted out the door. “HELL YES!!!” I said to myself.

Thus winning the best prize I could have asked for in that moment.

Together Greg and I checked CC in and practically ran to the nearest bar where we talked non-stop and uninterrupted I might add, for 2 whole hours.

We peeked in on the kids twice. Both times they were all playing with friends and climbing this awesome giant jungle gym of nets, running around carefree, and dancing with the music. We didn’t feel guilty at all when we decided to have a 2 hour dinner at a nice steakhouse in the casino.

It was so refreshing. I felt so relaxed knowing the kids were having a great time, running around, using their gross motor muscles, and playing with other kids their age.

Suffice it to say, I was not surprised when I awoke this morning feeling completely refreshed and rejuvenated. I am ready to begin again. Last night we definitely won the lotto…hit the jackpot…experienced a full house…had a royal flush…and any other term you can think of…

…great food, great music, great company, great conversation…and a blissful 4 hours alone.

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Feeling appreciative today folks. 

I’m one lucky lady. 

TWO HUNDRED TWENTY TWO…damn desert

I am so done with the desert.

I’ve sat down to write this post 20 times within the last month. I write for 20 minutes, proof-read, realize it’s just a bunch of crap, erase, minimize the screen, close my computer, put it to the side and walk away. I have reached a point in my negativity where pithy statements reign over being “creative”. Day after day, I just walk by the sexy sleek green-cased Apple computer and day-dream about the words flowing freely from my hand.

I set my camera down at the end of January and haven’t touched it since. I have zero motivation to take pictures of the girls for the umpteenth time standing or playing in the desert. But we are stuck here until the RV company can replace our broken jack. Yes, in case you were wondering, we have already had one of our 4 jacks repaired 1 month after we purchased the behemoth, so…..theres that.

As soon as they repair it, we are making a B-LINE to Texas. This southern girl is missing the feeling of plush grass beneath her feet, leaves on trees and the natural shade they provide (perfect for taking pictures mid-day), humidity in the air, gently rolling vibrant green hills, natural hospitality, bodies of water, occasional rainstorms, dreary grey days,  offensive religious billboards which challenge my personal beliefs, and the general color green.

It’s so bad right now, I have been pinning dream houses and dream yards with overly manicured lawns in my Pinterest account. No doubt, if I grew up in the desert, I would be totally enthralled. Being surrounded by trees, understandably might make me feel as if I were being encroached upon.  BUT, I was born and raised in the south…surrounded by trees and real grass. I feel too exposed in the desert…I like to play hide-and-seek with the sun. I love when it’s out in full force and we find shade to sit and take pictures in. There’s nowhere to hide here, no matter how much sunscreen I lather on, the sun just beats down on my skin and I can hear my skin aging rapidly.

I will take pictures again…one day. I desperately miss my camera…and writing. Needless to say, we have completed quite a bit of schoolwork and for once, I am proud to say, we are ahead of my schedule. So the desert has been good for us in that regard.

TWO HUNDRED TWENTY…paradise vs. reality

In the wee hours of Monday, January 16th, we were all slowly waking up in our new existence. For the next week we are camping out just south of Tucson. We finally moved from paradise. It was time. We were ready. As ready as we thought we were, it is a little sad to wake up and suddenly, 1. you have a neighbor again, 2. you not only have one neighbor but many 3. the amazing view of the Colorado River has been replaced by a parking lot of other RVs and Finally, 4. the sand from our private island has been superseded with miles upon miles of asphalt.

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When you stay on a private island for 2 months and 2 whole weeks, you have some mental hurdles to overcome when re-entering civilization: Getting out the door is the first step in the re-entry process, familiarizing yourself with the new town goes a long way, Grocery shopping at the local grocery store seems to quell my initial pangs of “Oh wow, I miss the campsite we just left!” I also noticed my habitual task of cleaning and straightening up once we get settled into our new existance…putting everything back in its place is a good way to create a “homey environment”. For me, cleaning and grocery shopping are my goto’s for making the process of getting used to an area a little easier.

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Regular life keeps on going…and soon the private island longing turns into good feelings and positive memories. I am now free to reflect on what the private island gave to our little family. We learned so much about ourselves during our extended stay: it was our first experience with major holidays away from family and on an RV, making holiday’s more merrier for the kids was both laborious as well as easy: It took a lot more imagination and creativity to prep for the holidays but it was easier because it was a much smaller space; I got into the habit of waking early to do some writing; due to the fluctuating temperatures, I now prefer layering more than ever; and school works best when mommy has a plan! I’ve always known that last one, but staying in Paradise reminded me, we will just amiably roam around unless I have an agenda!!!

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We were able to accomplish a lot of tasks and make some pretty amazing memories there. When we left Sunday afternoon, the feeling of excitement flooded my being. I can’t help getting excited and eager to see and experience new things with my family. But as always, when we pulled into the campsite late Sunday afternoon, I suddenly had a longing for the paradise we had left behind. There’s nothing new about this feeling. I have learned to recognize the pattern of ‘uneasy feelings’ when first arriving at a new destination. It happened with paradise as well: I was wary about the isolation of being on a river far away from the actual campground.

But it always turns out to be a positive.

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Upon arrival of a new site, I always see my surroundings in a “literal” way. Which makes sense, I have no experience of the new place so I cannot draw from the good feelings I had when we visited here “that one time”. I only see what’s right in front of my face. Later Monday morning, when we took our morning walk around the campsite and the girls were riding on their scooters weaving left to right on the open roads, my “literal” view began to change to a more figurative one.

The figurative view allows me to look beyond the not-so-great aesthetics of our current surroundings and see it for what it allows our family to experience. The more memories we make in this area/town, the more warm feelings I will have toward this campground. It’s liberating to recognize a pattern for what it is…a recurring feeling…and it’s attachment to an emotional feeling I have. Once the pattern is identified, I can sit back and watch it  take an active role in helping it blossom into something more. I might add, there has yet to be an instance when the negative feelings persist.  Even the ugliest campgrounds have a special place in my heart.

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TWO HUNDRED SEVENTEEN…synthetic fibrous dramas

We are dealing with a major tragedy in our most humble of humble abodes.

and of course my pictures have absolutely nothing to do with the story...

Last week, Wednesday to be exact, the kids were playing outside. When the kids play they drag every stuffy they own along for the ride. On this particular day, they had lined their stuffies in 3 separate rows of 5. As far as I could see, they were holding a tribunal. Rainbow Puppy Bunny had attended a forest/desert class in the nude with poop on his bottom…his crime was that he didn’t pay any mind to the others in the class and began wiping his poopy bottom on his classmates.

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On a sidenote, poop is a major source of entertainment in our house at the moment. I don’t know why I just wrote “at the moment”, it’s not as if we’ve just discovered our love of all things poop…this is an ongoing subject in our house…years to be exact. It seems to have reached its pinnacle recently. A story becomes far more interesting if it involves poop. If you add “poop” to an ordinary joke, it becomes the most amazing joke ever told. If I am losing the kids in a school lesson, adding “poop talk” to our studies turns the most doldrum lesson into the most engaging lesson there ever was. I have been considering myself a very astute teacher as of late, thanks to my juvenile sense of humor…I am really taking advantage of our socially unacceptable bodily functions.

Back to the tribunal of stuffies…the girls were really making the stuffies come down hard on Rainbow Puppy Bunny for exposing his poopy bottom to his classmates. I recall a little bit of peer pressure from his synthetically stuffed classmates, including but not limited to mocking, pointing, and isolating him behind a group of cacti in the desert. It was actually just a small collection of dead brush, but we have recently studied cacti and its awesome characteristics.  So the dead brush went from blah to a fully armed and loaded cacti just waiting for one wrong move.

I watched them develop their storyline for quite some time and then Greg came out to proclaim, “We are getting the bleep out of this site and going out for dinner”. And yes he actually said, “Bleep”. He says it a lot. The girls gathered everything, per my request, and began throwing it inside. I take you through this agonizing culmination of events to set the stage for what ensues.

On a random but relevant note, existence in the desert means we have our fair share of 40 plus mile an hour winds both during the day as well as night. Not always, but when it is windy, it is significant. Hence the reason our super cute Christmas tree is pathetically laying on the ground. So to get back to the original story, Phoebe, whose never met a synthetically stuffed stranger, is attached to every single one she comes into contact with. She not only has a name for them but also a whole history of how they have come to be as well.

As we were getting ready to leave, the wind at this particular moment in time was truant. So when Phoebe made the decision to leave Rainbow Puppy Bunny outside as part of his punishment, I didn’t think anything of it. As soon as we drove the 15 miles it takes to get out of our campsite, ok I am exaggerating, it only takes 8…we hopped on 95 and immediately noticed the wind pushing us around.

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Again, I was busy and not thinking anything of Rainbow Puppy Bunny. We had an uneventful dinner in Lake Havasu and I was able to do 3 loads of laundry within an hour and a half timeline. The wind at this point had been aggressively throwing its weight around and we were feeling it as we were making our journey back to our modest living quarters. When we reached our campsite, the wind took hold of our car doors and propelled them to their limit. We all made it inside and the first thing out of Phoebe’s mouth was, “I have to go get Rainbow Puppy Bunny!”

Sadly, Rainbow Puppy Bunny was nowhere to be found. Like all the other weightless inanimate objects in 40 mile an hour wind storm, we assume he was taken away to his new home. I knew Phoebe was going to have a very hard time with this one. If your thinking, “oh good grief… it’s just a stuffed animal… she will get over it in an hour… get a replacement…or don’t…make her toughen up.” You obviously don’t know Phoebe.

Here we are one week and a day later dealing with our overly compassionate 7-year-old laying on the floor, tears streaming down her face professing her absolute love for Rainbow Puppy Bunny. “She was my number 3 favorite stuffed animal. She was beautiful. Fun. Playful. Blankie is my first. Monster is number 2. Puppy Bunny is number 3. I love her. I miss her. What if she’s not ok? Can we go look for her again? What if someone has her? Or worse, what if someone has her and they are playing with her right now” throwing herself into full-on ‘my life is ruined’ mode.

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We walk a fine line as parents of helping them live in reality, maintaining their innocence and wonder, feeding into their dramas and quirky behavior, and probably eventually coercing them into becoming just like everyone else. Yes, on the one hand it would be really nice if Phoebe could get over the whole Puppy Bunny being gone, but on the other hand it is wonderful that, Rainbow Puppy Bunny is her only source of stress at the moment.

While on the RV, Greg and I have been hyper aware of birthdays and holidays. We knew it was going to be hard around this time when we usually spend a majority of our time with family. But with limited living space and a 5 person vehicle flying family in, is not an easy feat. I was resolute in not allowing Rainbow Puppy Bunny to tarnish the joy Greg and I have been working so hard to bring this season.

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So, as usual, I did what any soft-hearted but also kind of annoyed parent might do and told her, “Maybe, just maybe Phoebe, Rainbow Puppy Bunny was feeling homesick and wanted to be with his mommy and daddy…and his brothers and sisters at Christmas time. We should be happy for him” “Rainbow Puppy Bunny is a girl Mommy…not a boy!” I weighed my options, apologized for calling her a “him” and kept my mouth shut to see how she might respond. Keeping my mouth shut is one of my better choices today, she came back with, “Do you think she’s ok Mommy?”

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My cruel imagination produced a picture of Rainbow Puppy Bunny laying facedown completely drenched on a set of rocks on the Colorado River miles from our campsite. And with that image, I lied, “Of course I do Phoebe…I bet she’s snuggling up with her Mommy on their couch right now drinking hot cocoa, eating pop corn and telling her family all about the amazing little girl named Phoebe, she got to know.” “Okay Mommy, your probably right” and with a hug and kiss, we were able to put the lid back on our can of ‘life with a toddler’ box.

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A major tragedy was brought to a close and our hopes and efforts of having/creating a wonderful holiday in our RV will continue. Tonight I will definitely be taking part in a coffee mug of wine.

 

 

TWO HUNDRED FIFTEEN…oh Christmas tree

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…And the holiday’s are upon us. The magical day is rapidly approaching. Let the stress begin! Continue reading

TWO HUNDRED EIGHT…our own private island

It’s official.

There is a place in eastern California on the border of Arizona that gives Mount Shasta, California a run for its money.

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Let me be more specific…the camping spot we are currently in might just beat all other campgrounds put together. Mount Shasta is still one of my all-time favorite small mountain towns on the west coast. I’m talking about campgrounds only. We rolled into Arizona late Sunday night but backtracked to Cali the next day for a potentially better campground. Boy, was it worth it. Due to our experiences thus far, our hopes were not very high…this campground boasted of a water splash pad/park for the kids, Colorado River views, and private beaches.

“Well, I’m sure there’s a catch” I said to Greg, “They probably don’t have anything available…it’s probably one of those places you have to call a year in advance to book a site.” I tried to book a site online but the website was telling me “no availability” for the amenities I was checking off. “I will just call and ask” I thought. Even though when I’ve “just called”in the past, it has always been the same information as the website, no availability for the criteria I was checking off.

I am so glad I didn’t go with my head this time around. When I got the front desk on the phone, I was able to get everything I wanted and then some. We not only scored a River view in the middle of nowhere, we have our own private beach. We share a camping cul-de-sac for lack of a better term with 3 other sites, but have not had to share it since we’ve been here. I guess we nailed the time of year, although we will have to move one night next week. But even then we come back to an even more secluded part of the river with an even bigger beach. I feel so lucky.

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It is so magnificent, we extended our stay for a whole month…and with that came a discount.

W H A T?

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From the entrance of the gate, it is about a 3 mile drive to our site on sandy back roads. There are approximately 20 River Beach Cul-de-sacs or whatever you want to call them. Each cul-de-sac can have 4 RV’s. Right now, there are only 4 of us between 20 campsites. It is Glorious. If I wanted to go in the buck all day, which I don’t, I totally could.  We do have the occasional people who drive by to check it out. And every day, I find myself rubbernecking just to make sure the cars barreling down the deserted road aren’t turning into our special island. I know we won’t have it to ourselves for long, so we are all doing our best to enjoy every minute of it.

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At least for now.

ONE HUNDRED SEVEN…desert vs dessert

Greetings from Needles, California! Otherwise known as the desert. Not dessert, but desert.

I have not taken any pictures in a week. We Cecilia is dealing with Perioral Dermatitis yet again and we are anxiously awaiting for her face to heal. It’s frustrating and not something I care to share at this point. So, I am using photos from our July 2016 getaway into the mountains of Beach, NC. and listening to Phantogram.

Phantogram…thank you…now I’m in a good mood.

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I have a somewhat embarrassing faux pas to admit, but if you know me, it probably won’t come as a shock. Somewhere along our travels, I have added a month to our journey. So I need to  rectify my calculations from a previous post. We have been on the road for 157 Days for a total of 5 months. There, I feel better. On December 10th, it will officially be 6 months.

157 days isn’t quite the same as 184 days I had written earlier. I kept counting the month of May. We didn’t even get this beast until June.

Any who…

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Lately it seems a lot of my posts are about sleep or lack there of…this one is no different.

I had a difficult time falling asleep last night…I was so excited about being in warm weather and having a great campsite. And if I’m being completely honest, I had a difficult time putting my phone down. Damn Pinterest. So I made an executive decision to sleep with Cecilia. She’s a really good cuddler right now. It hasn’t always been that way, so I enjoy the little opportunities to snuggle up with her.

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So I contorted myself to fit inside her single bunk just the way I do twice a day, every day for nap and bedtime. As usual, I fail to remember and correctly estimate the closeness of the top bunk. As I’m taking my right hand off the top, like clockwork (not cockwork as spell check wants me to write, which, by the way, isn’t even a word spellcheck inventor people) I bump the right side of my head. Last night was no exception. I pressed on the bump that has developed on my head like I do twice a day every day to try to relieve the pain. Once the pain had subsided, I settled downright beside her warm body. Her face was turned toward me and I bent my head down to smell her strawberry toothpaste breath. Totally worth the pain. It was wonderful. I took a deep breath, nestled close to her, and closed my eyes.

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Unfortunately after the 4th time of being kicked in the legs and stomach, the 2nd time of being punched in the face with the backside of her hand, I decided to go back to my bed. In that moment, Greg happened to peek his head into her bunk looking for me. “Just checking on you” he whispered. I motioned that I was coming out. He gave me his hand to help me up, but it’s much easier if I just sort of fall out of the bed.

I like to slide my right leg out and plant my foot on the floor…followed by my right arm to brace myself and then I hike up my left leg to my chest and much like a glob of wet play-doh I just sort of flop onto the floor. Jello might be the better visual here folks. So let the sentence above read, much like a glob of jello, I just sort of flop on the floor. The dilemma I have with getting out of the bottom bunk is very similar to getting in. Clearly entering and exiting the bunks weren’t intended for a full-grown adult. Once in the bed though, it is quite comfy. At this point I am just trying to help my scalp/skull retain some of it’s natural shape.

Back to the adult bedroom.

The temptation to reach for my phone when I’m not even the slightest bit tired is so strong. I tell myself, “Just a couple of minutes on pinterest or reading the news” and before I know it, an hour has gone by. So, once I got back to bed, I chucked my phone into the bathroom and shut the door. And by chucked I mean I tried to gently throw it onto the counter, I usually have wicked aim, but missed it by about 4 inches hearing it flop onto the floor.

Fast forward to this morning and I wake up to…wanna guess? A cracked iphone screen you say?

And there in lies my rational for what my Monday might look like…a bit bleary.

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No, just kidding. My screen didn’t crack. Are you kidding? I have to have a sheet of armer on that thing to withstand the beatings it recieves everyday from the Spranger girls.

Nope, it’s just a regular old Monday in the desert. Hope yours is a good one.

ONE HUNDRED FIVE…making memories

One holiday, two birthdays, one presidential election down… two holiday’s and two birthday’s to go.

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184 days 6th months on the road as of today. Just like those times I wake up and cannot believe I am a mother and a wife…I still have moments where I cannot believe we have done this.

On Sunday, we drove 188 miles north of Pismo Beach to Chowchilla, CA.

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Segue: In High School, I discovered and became enamoured with Ansel Adams. I always envisioned myself living in the mountains surrounded by nature and he captured what I felt in his photography. His work emotionally effected me, spoke to me, and inspired me.

Instead of paying attention in Mr. Packs English class, I was daydreaming about little details in my future dream home in the middle of an Ansel Adams masterpiece; the way the sun would bounce off the wooden floor and fill the room with golden light, the way the fire in the fireplace would crackle while I read books on the oversized couch, the modest wooden cabin which smelled of banana bread, and the socks I would wear. I know, that last one was random. What can I say, I had a sock and sweater collection that would put Jay Leno’s car collection to shame.

This modest cabin was always nestled in the middle of an Ansel Adams photograph. I think I watched the movies Continental Divide and Aspen Extreme one too many times. It was a dream I carried with me from High School all the way until my 5th year of marriage. It was in that 5th year I discovered I actually liked warm weather and preferred to be outside a majority of the time.

But I never let go of my dream to visit Yosemite National Park. And yesterday I had the opportunity to fulfill that dream. The girls and I drove 62 miles north and took the morning and early afternoon to explore the wonders of Yosemite. In many ways it was overwhelming. It reminded me of the time I cried the first time I saw a whale up close. I was overcome with gratitude and emotion as we drove the windy path with our windows down and listening to Tycho. I used the pull-overs to drag the girls out of the car and experience the wonder and awesomeness of nature.

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Eventually, we found a pull-over with restrooms and several different walking paths. Since it was just me doing the driving, I really didn’t have time to look at the park map. I kept seeing all these people walking around with the highest quality lenses Canon makes. When we got out of the car, I found out why. We were right beside Bridalveil Fall. It was 620 feet of gushing intensity and beauty. It’s almost impossible for me to bring my camera along with all the kids by myself, so I only took pictures of the girls enjoying nature. But the pictures I took with my mind will always be with me.

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And we experienced fall for the 6th time this year.  This is a great month to visit the park. The leaves are vibrant shades of yellow, red and orange and covering the ground of the pull-over. The girls played in the area for over an hour, until the temperature began to drop and the sun started to disappear behind the mountain. On our way back to daddy and the beast, we talked about the amazing things we saw and what our favorite parts were. I hope the girls remember yesterday’s adventure for years to come. I know I will.

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At least once a week I will experience that feeling of I can’t believe we did this. Yesterday was that day for me. We are making some amazing memories together.

TWO HUNDRED THREE…missing our furry side

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What do you do when your 9 year-old wants a puppy for her birthday…but your not quite ready? You gently explain, “Daddy and I are not quite ready to fill those big holes in your hearts just yet. The day will come…just be patient. I love you. Pick another gift.” Playing the mean mom today. Continue reading

TWO HUNDRED ONE…rv’s, trains, and automobiles

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I never thought I would suggest using my children’s voices to lull me to sleep, but here I am suggesting we do that very thing. I just need their voices to drown out the train and car noises I hear all night long. Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED NINETY SEVEN…the slowest week E V E R

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This is for the times when perseverance eludes us. A mini-guide on how to maintain sanity when you are slowly loosing your mind… Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED NINETY SIX…go on and feel it

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Sometimes, doubling back is necessary before moving forward. Feeling all the feels today folks. Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED NINETY TWO…volcanos and pools

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Traveling to places we have never even heard of is just one reason we chose this lifestyle. climbing 8,300 foot mountain, or volcano rather, is quite the experience. Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED NINETY…contemplating mommyhood

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I have been lucky enough to have many mentally satisfying and physically challenging jobs. I have also had some really bad jobs. Even those jobs, I appreciate. They taught me something I still use today. But my most favorite job by far, is being a mother. I daresay it is the most mentally and emotionally challinging and physically straining jobs I have ever had. Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY NINE…lessons learned

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While there are many advantages to living minimally and being mobile, it is not without its challenges. I’ve learned so much in the 118 days of being full-timers. Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY FOUR…seeking stability within mobility

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being mobile full-time makes me realize how much I love and value my family and friends. There are some definite cons for travelling full-time. But you won’t ever hear me complain about the 3 hour time difference! At least not while I am in Pacific Standard time! Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY THREE…stop, look, touch and smell

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what’s that saying…”don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing”…I recently had my own version of that which went something like, “don’t let your right brain know what your left brain is doing” and then there was this weird interaction with a plastic canister of butter. Never a dull moment over here. Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY TWO…eat, drive, pee…repeat

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5 days, 600 miles a day, 3,000 and some odd miles total…we finally made it to the west coast. Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY ONE…my petal tips are turning brown

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Sometimes I see myself as a flower whose petals are solely dependent on outside factors for their healthy vibrant color. If that were the case, my petal tips are beginning to tarnish. Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY NINE…tomfoolerative

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Sometimes I think maybe, if we stopped our “normal adult behavior” and adopted our children’s “play anywhere and everywhere” mentality, maybe we would be a more productive, happy and successful society. I think we should label it, tomfoolerative. And I think we should make it a new legislative branch of government. Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY SEVEN…shoes are NOT optional

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“get dressed girls” in 6 and 9 year-old girl world means, “put our clothes on and our dolls clothes on we’re going somewhere. But she didn’t say shoes, so we probably don’t need them.” Do they have a lingo book for 6 & 9 year olds somewhere? Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY FIVE…vermont

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Vermont is such a magical place for our family. The outside activities, the walking and biking paths all throughout the cities, and the scenery make me want to linger a bit longer. Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY THREE…damn rookies

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Who would be naive enough to drive 750 miles to a destination without having secured a place to stay? Only a rookie would have that kind of oversight. Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY TWO…we can do this

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letting go of something or somethings (plural) is often more difficult than the actuality of living without it. I think for me, it’s the incontrovertible process of having to say goodbye. Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY ONE…WE DID IT!!!

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We never really know the impetus or the catalyst behind some of our personal choices. We can speculate, presume, and try to make sense, where there is no sense to be made. Sometimes, you just have to follow your dreams. And that’s what we’re doing… Continue reading